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We will be looking at four different sailboats this weekend. One of the boats is a Catalina 34 MK 1.5. It seems this boat has been very well taken care of (although electronics seem outdated). Here is our concern....she has been used for racing quite a bit on Lake Michigan. Should we be concerned about the fact that this boat has most likely been pushed to it's limits many times? Of course, we would have a survey done to make sure that things are sound structurally. Any thoughts, concerns, or things that we should be looking at specifically would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time.
 

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What does pushed to its limit actually mean? Use will mean wear items age. Rigging fails usually from when the slack shroud flexes. Sails get stretched out. Moving parts wear. A frequently used boat will show more "wear" than a less used one.
 

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I wouldn't be concerned just because it was used for racing. Boats suffer at least as much from neglect as they do from hard use. A boat used for racing has probably been sailed regularly, by people who have a pretty good idea what they are doing, and who want the boat to always be in top sailing condition. Sounds to me like a recipe for a well taken care of boat.
 

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Boats that were raced often have a lot of sails and useful gear. I would look very closely at chain plates, rigging, keel to hull joint, keel bolts, through hulls. And of course get it surveyed.
 

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Hello,

i would not be concerned with the effects of racing on the rig, rudder, keel or other structural components. The boat is designed to be sailed, and in all kinds of weather. Where I would expect to see more wear and tear is on the cosmetic parts. Racers are not exactly kind to the boat when racing. Winch handles get dropped on deck, crew step on anything in the way, wet sails get dragged below, coolers can tip and spill, crew run all over the boat, etc.

On the other hand, the race boats I have been on have all received lots of tender love and care regarding maintenance and upgrades. Winches get serviced on a regular basis, you will find nice things like backstay adjusters, jib car adjusters that work, upgraded travelers, higher quality sheets and halyards, etc.

Good luck,
Barry
 

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I agree, having been raced is not necessarily a negative. If any hardware is going to break, it will break when pushed hard, and when it does break racers tend to upgrade it rather than just replace it with whatever is cheapest. The sail inventory is likely to be better as well. Old dacron cruising sails just won't do for racing, so they have likely been upgraded, and it should be equipped with a spinnaker and all the associated gear that many cruising boats dont have.

Having said all that, you dont really know how seriously it was raced. Catalinas aren't exactly the first choice of serious racers. Any boat can be raced, but once someone gets the racing bug and wants to get serious they are likely going to seek something higher performance than that. Who knows, maybe that is why it is on the market.

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The only thing I would assume is aged beyond its years are the sails. A cruiser will reef or not pull that sheet in quite as hard. Most all used sailboats will need new sails, unless they were just installed anyway. It's often one of the expenses that are being avoided by the PO. The point about cosmetics was a good one too. If owned solely for racing, they are often put away wet.
 

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We will be looking at four different sailboats this weekend. One of the boats is a Catalina 34 MK 1.5. It seems this boat has been very well taken care of (although electronics seem outdated). Here is our concern....she has been used for racing quite a bit on Lake Michigan. Should we be concerned about the fact that this boat has most likely been pushed to it's limits many times? Of course, we would have a survey done to make sure that things are sound structurally. Any thoughts, concerns, or things that we should be looking at specifically would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time.
I'm going to disagree with most of the other posters here, nothing new about that.

First there are different sub species of racers. I worked with Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada. Anything less than perfection was simply not acceptable to him and the boat was gone over with a fine toothed comb every time it returned to harbour. This is a rare breed of racer at a very elite level.

Another racer species i.e. the Tuesday night club racers (most of them) seem to know little about rigging stresses, structural elements, diesels or electrical or mechanical systems. They fire her up, full throttle out of the harbour, shut her down, circle the cans then again abuse the diesel on the way back to the bar. The majority of Tuesday night warrior boats I've surveyed (probably close to 700 out of almost 5,000) are among the worst I see.

What you have going for you on the Catalina is that it's not a boat admired by the Tuesday night warriors for it's racing prowess. If it was raced it most likely was the Monday night white sail races where the old guys get together for a relaxing evening on the water.

Marine Survey 101 may help show you how to inspect her
 

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Dont buy a race boat unless you plan to race it.

Buy a boat whose owner used it the way that you plan to use it: daysailer, weekender, coastal cruising, liveaboard, bluewater cruiser.

Otherwise you pay for a lot of gear you wont need, and end up buying new other gear that would have come with the right purchase.

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Chain plates was a weak area on the 34. Catalina has a retrofit available. Most likely will have some high moisture readings on the deck around the chain plates. As was previously posted the Cat. 34 is not what you would call a racing boat per say and likely not really pushed that hard so to speak. The real key to racing is not making mistakes. Most of the beer can racing boats are trying to obtain the most the boat will deliver for the given conditions without screwing up and that rarely equates to "pushing her hard". Yes occasionally you will see boats rounding up in the puffs but these aren't the ones that win races. Someone mentioned checking the skippers record to see what their standing was, I really don't think that is any kind of measure of how hard the boat was pushed or how well it was cared for. I like the Catalina 34 as a coastal cruising boat and would have purchased one had I been able to find one that didn't have the chain plate issue. It's a good sailing boat with not a lot of quarks but it certainly wouldn't be my first choice as a racer.
 

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I'm going to disagree with most of the other posters here, nothing new about that.

First there are different sub species of racers. I worked with Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada. Anything less than perfection was simply not acceptable to him and the boat was gone over with a fine toothed comb every time it returned to harbour. This is a rare breed of racer at a very elite level.

Another racer species i.e. the Tuesday night club racers (most of them) seem to know little about rigging stresses, structural elements, diesels or electrical or mechanical systems. They fire her up, full throttle out of the harbour, shut her down, circle the cans then again abuse the diesel on the way back to the bar. The majority of Tuesday night warrior boats I've surveyed (probably close to 700 out of almost 5,000) are among the worst I see.

What you have going for you on the Catalina is that it's not a boat admired by the Tuesday night warriors for it's racing prowess. If it was raced it most likely was the Monday night white sail races where the old guys get together for a relaxing evening on the water.

Marine Survey 101 may help show you how to inspect her
While I agree that there are different "sub-species" of racer, I would take issue with the generalization that they abuse their boats and don't understand them.

In my experience the casual racer is doing so because it is a good excuse to get out on the water and use their boats more. They are the same ones I see down at the docks working on their boats far more than the owners of the Dock Queens, that sit quietly in their slips waiting for their owner's vacation days. The casual racers are the ones that are replacing blocks, or doing maintenance on their winches because they are annoyed at how rough they have become. They are the ones cleaning their bottoms, making sure their instruments are working. They are the ones taking their sails to the sailmaker for maintenance and recuts. And yes, they are the ones changing the oil on their engines and flushing the cooling systems. They are the ones with the Loos gauge tuning their rigs. Why? Because they love their boats, and enjoy using them and tinkering with them.

While there may be some benefit to buying a lightly used Dock Queen, that has spent years sitting mostly unused, waiting for her annual cruise, that could also mean a lot more little things wrong that need to be addressed.

That's not to say there aren't some boats that were raced hard and put away wet, but those are pretty easy to spot. The interior woodwork takes a beating, and is often water stained for starters.

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We will be looking at four different sailboats this weekend. One of the boats is a Catalina 34 MK 1.5. It seems this boat has been very well taken care of (although electronics seem outdated). Here is our concern....she has been used for racing quite a bit on Lake Michigan. Should we be concerned about the fact that this boat has most likely been pushed to it's limits many times? Of course, we would have a survey done to make sure that things are sound structurally. Any thoughts, concerns, or things that we should be looking at specifically would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time.
Here is what I recommend noobs answer in sequence:

1. Will it meet my needs better than any of the 100s I've looked at on the internet, and 10 most promising of those, I've seen in person?
2. Has it been well maintained?
3. Is the initial purchase price, refit, and ongoing maintenance within my budget?

If you can answer "YES" to all 3, buy it! If no to any, keep looking.

There is absolutely no point buying a boat that doesn't meet your needs.

This is tricky if you are just starting out as you can't really know what you need.

Additionally, your needs may very well change, and quite rapidly as you gain experience, and nobody can predict in what way.

You could start racing and realize that you much prefer cruising, or vice versa, and have absolutely the wrong boat to make the transition well.

For most noobs, I recommend just talking to a number of sailors, both cruisers and racers, realizing that you will get as many different opinions about "what is best" as people you talk to, but just pick what makes sense to you.

Then purchase a used, but well cared for boat, that is popular.

If you decide this vessel no longer meets your needs, you should have little difficulty selling for about what you have in, if you bought it right and have also taken good care of it.

It will likely take many years of experience perhaps on several boats, to know what you really need, and be able to justify the cost of a fine example for what may be a moving target for the rest of your life.

Be aware that there is really no such thing as a "best" boat and the "final" boat is the one you own when you retire from sailing forever or kick the bucket.

Most sailors tend to lust after something else within ~7 years after the honeymoon.

(Yes, I'm still speaking about boats.) ;-)
 

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We will be looking at four different sailboats this weekend. One of the boats is a Catalina 34 MK 1.5. It seems this boat has been very well taken care of (although electronics seem outdated). Here is our concern....she has been used for racing quite a bit on Lake Michigan. Should we be concerned about the fact that this boat has most likely been pushed to it's limits many times? Of course, we would have a survey done to make sure that things are sound structurally. Any thoughts, concerns, or things that we should be looking at specifically would be appreciated.



Thank you for your time.
I am curious how the boat shopping went. What did you like? What were your impressions of the "race" boat vs the others?

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Discussion Starter #17
We looked at the 92 Catalina 34 MK1.5 that was the focus of this thread. We also looked at a Catalina 36 MK 1.5 (which was already sold but we wanted to be able to compare it to the 34), an 85 Endeavour 38, a 2008 Catalina 350, and a Beneteau 331 (have no idea on the year...the salesman just suggested we take a quick look on the way out of the boatyard).

The Catalina 34 MK 1.5 is well maintained, in great shape for the age, and priced nicely. If the boat were for only my husband and myself, we would probably be having further discussions with the owner and looking for a surveyor. But, we are looking for a boat that our 2 adult sons (who also enjoy sailing) can enjoy as work allows them on weekends (since we are retired the plan is that we will use it during the week and they use it during the weekends...eventually [hopefully many years from now] our sons will do most of the sailing as we age :( Anyways, both sons are almost 6'3" and felt very uncomfortable on the Catalina 34 because of the lower headroom (granted most of their time will hopefully be topside).

They did have headroom in the Catalina 36 but as I mentioned, that one was already sold. There are several MKIIs available on the Great Lakes so we will check into those. The Endeavour had a lot of room but we are looking for something a bit more modern. The Catalina 350 certainly had the headroom and met the "modern" aspect, but we were disappointed by the condition and my husband doesn't like it's "numbers" as well on sailboatdata.com.

So, as mentioned, we will look into the Catalina 36 MK II and an acquaintance has suggested that we should also consider looking at the Catalina 387. Does anyone have feedback on those two models (I know that is probably a dangerous question)?

Thanks for all the input!
 

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A good friend has a Cat 350 and I've sailed on it a number of times. It is definitely not a light air boat, but does sail nicely in heavier air. However most 350s come with roller reefing mains, but my friend's has a standard main with a Dutchman system. That improves sailing performance.
FWIW, the Cat 34, 36 and 350 all rate about the same under PHRF - about 150. So not sure what the concern about the "numbers" is.
 

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Wow love the bashing on racers here.
My boat was usually setup safer and better rigged than the cruising boats. Also I overengineered everything on it so that I could push it without breaking it.

I am used to seeing the "cruisers" focus more on the cup holders and stitching on the sail covers, the sails and rigging are usually trashed.
Let us not turn this into a sling fest, it doesn't answer the question.

When is a Catalina 34 ever a race boat? Answer: never.

The bonuses you'll likely get if the boat was raced, is rigging will be setup for crew efficiency, you'll likely have decent sails, but the creature comforts might well have been removed, or at least stripped clear of the boat.
 

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We looked at the 92 Catalina 34 MK1.5 that was the focus of this thread. We also looked at a Catalina 36 MK 1.5 (which was already sold but we wanted to be able to compare it to the 34), an 85 Endeavour 38, a 2008 Catalina 350, and a Beneteau 331 (have no idea on the year...the salesman just suggested we take a quick look on the way out of the boatyard).



The Catalina 34 MK 1.5 is well maintained, in great shape for the age, and priced nicely. If the boat were for only my husband and myself, we would probably be having further discussions with the owner and looking for a surveyor. But, we are looking for a boat that our 2 adult sons (who also enjoy sailing) can enjoy as work allows them on weekends (since we are retired the plan is that we will use it during the week and they use it during the weekends...eventually [hopefully many years from now] our sons will do most of the sailing as we age :( Anyways, both sons are almost 6'3" and felt very uncomfortable on the Catalina 34 because of the lower headroom (granted most of their time will hopefully be topside).



They did have headroom in the Catalina 36 but as I mentioned, that one was already sold. There are several MKIIs available on the Great Lakes so we will check into those. The Endeavour had a lot of room but we are looking for something a bit more modern. The Catalina 350 certainly had the headroom and met the "modern" aspect, but we were disappointed by the condition and my husband doesn't like it's "numbers" as well on sailboatdata.com.



So, as mentioned, we will look into the Catalina 36 MK II and an acquaintance has suggested that we should also consider looking at the Catalina 387. Does anyone have feedback on those two models (I know that is probably a dangerous question)?



Thanks for all the input!
What are the "numbers" your husband is looking at? Sail area/displacement?

If he is looking at performance numbers, none of those Catalinas are very quick. PHRF 150 is pretty slow for a 36ft boat.

Perhaps you should be looking at some "sportier" options from C&C, Jeanneau, Beneteau or Jboats.

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